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Cats Left to Die in County Dumpster

531987_10151272128562233_1656149552_nOn Tuesday morning, February 5th, an elderly man drove to the Wadesboro Park dumpsters in Franklin County to take his trash. He heard movement in the green container and began attempting to climb up to see what was in there.

This man walks with a cane and has suffered three heart attacks, so to say this was difficult for him would be an understatement. When he got to a point where he could finally see inside, he saw two cats, one that appeared to already be dead and one who looked barely alive

There was no one around to help him, but he struggled to climb inside anyway. He said it took him three hours from start to finish to get both the cat and himself out of the dumpster. Three hours. Elderly man. Walks with a cane.

The man drove the one surviving cat to the Franklin County Humane Society Adoption Center. He walked in carrying the cat in a pet carrier and asked for help.

Veterinarian Marybeth Chachonas and the veterinary assistants at the clinic worked to save her, but she was beyond the point of survival.  They did everything they could for her, and while they were trying to help her, she kneaded her paws the way cats do when they are happy and like your attention.

Karin Perala, co-director for the Center, says she is still haunted by the horrible condition the cat was in. “I can’t get it off my mind,” she says. “How can anyone knowingly cause this kind of suffering?”

What happened on Tuesday at those dumpsters paints a very clear picture of the best and worst of humanity.

One person drove to the dumpsters and threw away two living, breathing, feeling creatures. Tossed them in with the trash headed for the county landfill.

Another person drove to the dumpsters that morning, heard a living being in need of help and risked his own well-being to try and save her life.

Cruelty. Kindness. In this case, the kindness did not cancel out the cruelty. But everyone at the Franklin County Humane Society is grateful for the man who gave it his best. A man who tried.


It is illegal to abandon an animal at a county dumpster. Warning posters will be reissued throughout the county. If you witness such an act, please immediately call the Franklin County Sheriff’s office at 540-483-3000.


The Kitten Born With Two Legs


Talk about the odds being stacked against you. Try being a kitten, born in a barn with only two legs.

That’s Tupa’s story. When word of it reached the ears of rescue volunteer Ashley Williams, she knew she had to find a place for this little boy to go. She contacted her friends at the Franklin County Humane Society and asked if it would be possible to help him.

At that point, no one knew the exact extent of his disability, and so a visit to Dr. Eric Lorens at the Rocky Mount Pet Clinic was scheduled. Everyone who knew about little Tupa held their breath while waiting to hear whether he would be able to have a somewhat normal life or whether it would be impossible for him to survive.


Thankfully, Tupa is a fighter, and Dr. Lorens found him healthy aside from his non-functioning teeny back legs.

Word was then sent out for a potential foster for this adorable munchkin, and volunteer Chelsea Ellis waved her hand, “I will!”

The lesson we’ve taken away from Tupa’s story is one we should know well by now. Amazing and wonderful things can be done when caring people step forward and say, “We can help.”

If you would like to help the Franklin County Humane Society continue helping pets like Tupa, please consider making a donation by clicking here.

Starving No More

Micki – Now

Minnie – Now

Imagine being tied on a metal chain that is attached to a post. Imagine watching the person who has fed you and given you water leave you and drive away. Imagine that you wait day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, for over thirty days for them to come back. Imagine that they never do. And you are left to starve and thirst to death.

Micki – just after she was found

This is what happened to Micki and Minnie, a Walker Hound and Black Lab cross who were found tied at an abandoned house. Based on facts we’ve been able to obtain, they were left that way for at least thirty days.

Minnie – A Few Days After Being Found

A woman who just happened to be walking by the house one morning heard a noise behind the weeds and went over to investigate. She knew that no one had lived in the house for a good while. She found the two dogs, skeletal versions of what they would normally look like, on the verge of starving to death.

It’s hard to imagine how Micki and Minne could even have survived. Beautiful Walker Hound Micki had apparently been eating the insulation from under the house where she was left tied. We have to assume she and Minnie drank what rain water became available to them.

While it is difficult not to dwell on how a human being could perpetrate such cruelty on another living being, what matters now is the road back to health and happiness for these two amazing dogs.

As soon as I heard about them, I knew I wanted to foster them, to do everything I could to help them move on. While there is no way to erase their pain and suffering, I wanted to show them how good life can be.

When Micki first arrived at our home, she was so terrified she would have melted herself into the back of the crate if she could have made it happen. I didn’t need for her to tell me in words how people had treated her to this point in her life. It was clear to see.

Micki – Scared

Minnie was more hopeful, wagging her tail as we helped her out of the crate. Both girls were shockingly thin, their ribs and hips poking out from their coats.

Each of their first meals seemed to come as a surprise to them, both looking up from their bowls almost as if they were making sure this wasn’t a joke.

I placed multiple water buckets in their room and in their fenced yard, wanting them to know that it was there in abundance, and they didn’t have to worry about sharing it. For a while, Micki would run to the bucket whenever Minnie went for a drink. She never tried to run Minnie away. She just wanted to make sure there was still plenty there.

Today felt like a turning point for these two girls. They have begun to fill out, look the way dogs who are taken care of look. We gave both girls a bath and then went outside into the sunshine to take some photos of them. In just two short weeks, they have gone from a state of complete neglect and starvation to beautiful, shiny dogs on their way back to full health.


The shocking thing is it takes so little. A kind voice. Food. Water. A soft bed.

Both girls are completely good sports about my accessorizing. They romp from one end of the yard to the other, sniffing, then stopping to check out the view around them. I’ve discovered that Minnie has been taught to sit. Somehow that puts another crack in my heart, the thought that someone had once cared enough for her to teach her such things, only to leave her the way they had?



I watch Micki’s face from behind my camera. I see a question flash up every now and then. Is this for real? Can I believe it’s not going away?

I put down my camera and walk over to hug her neck and tell her the answer. No, it’s not going away. No one is ever going to treat you that way again. We can’t erase what happened. But we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. That you will never again starve for food, for water, for kindness, for care.


It is the gift we so much want to give them both.

It is a gift they have every right to expect.


Families interested in adopting Micki or Minnie, please email

Written by Inglath Cooper

Just Like Those Other Dogs

Saturday night marked the First Annual Sundown Classic 5K Fundraiser put on by the Smith Mountain Lake YMCA and the Franklin County Humane Society. Held at the SML YMCA, it was a wonderful event, made all the better by an evening of perfect weather and a great turnout of runners, volunteers, and supporters.

There was music, good food, dancing, exceptionally gifted runners, and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs.


Many of the people attending the event brought their own dogs with them. We believe the oldest canine guest was a 17-year old chocolate Australian Shepherd who despite his age, appeared to enjoy himself immensely.

A Great Dane towered over all the other dogs in attendance, but couldn’t have been any friendlier to everyone he passed. We had Labs, chocolate and yellow, running in the 5K, Poodles and Shih-Tzu’s, Beagles and Weimaraners.

And then there were the wonderful Humane Society dogs who also attended the event, brought from the Adoption Center by a slew of volunteers who dressed them up in colorful bandanas and leashes and stayed by their side through the night.

With the exception of a couple of puppies who took a few available opportunities to sneak in a nap, I didn’t see one dog who didn’t look thrilled to be there.

Tawny, with her beautiful white face, and black and brown markings, greeted everyone she met with a happy tail wag.


Lily, a stunning grey brindle pit bull girl, dressed in pink and making the parking lot her catwalk, turned more than a few heads.



Devon, our brindle pit bull boy, was reported to have noticed Lily’s supermodel moves. We think it was love at first sight.


Hector, with his little Beagle body and big Cocker Spaniel eyes, took in the crowd from a lower point of view. That didn’t seem to bother him a bit.



Steffi and Jaida, both left as puppies at pounds, with terrible cases of mange. Both now shining with health and puppy playfulness.


Winston, a gorgeous Lab-cross, seemed like a different dog outside the adoption center. He’s been there for several months, and maybe he’s begun to think no one is coming for him. But when the volunteers opened the car door for him to hop inside and head out for the race, he was the happiest boy you’ve ever seen. What a gentleman he was the entire night, hanging out with the other dogs, saying hello to anyone who came up to greet him and just looking so pleased to be out in the world.


Many of the dogs who come into our care haven’t had great lives. Most of them come to us from a pound situation. I am grateful for every single one who comes into our care. Grateful for the facility we now have that provides them a safe and loving place to stay while they wait for a new family.


But our center, loving and caring as the people who work there and volunteer there are, isn’t the same as having a home of your own, belonging to a family of your own.


Watching the dogs who had come there with their people, with their families, made my heart hurt for those dogs who were there in hopes of meeting or being seen by a person or family who might love them.


It’s what we want for each and every one of them, to be loved and cherished, taken places with their people. To be a part of a family. The way the Great Dane was that night. The way the 17-year-old Aussie was that night.

It’s what all of our dogs wait for. It’s what we wait for.

I was so proud of each and every one of them Saturday night. They were so well-behaved. So courteous. And hopeful.

I wanted to hug each and every one of their necks, assure them their hope won’t be in vain. That one day soon, they will belong to a family again. Be loved and cherished and get to go places with their people.

Just like those other dogs.


Written by Inglath Cooper


We lost our Sarah tonight.

She didn’t die the way she was scheduled to five years ago. Terrified and confused inside a gas chamber. Wondering where her family was. Why they had left her at that place. What she had done to deserve such a thing.

Sweet Sarah.

Five years ago, we drove to Georgia and saved her, along with seven other dogs, from that fate. Brought her home to live with us, nurse her back to health from the severe case of heartworm disease she then had.

Sarah died tonight on my lap, surrounded by a family who loved her dearly. For her sweet, sweet soul. For her soft coat and loving eyes. She asked for so little. But gave so much.

I take comfort tonight in knowing that she didn’t die in that horrible place years ago. That she left this world knowing as much as any of us can that she mattered, that she was loved, that she will be missed.

Isn’t that the only way a life should ever end?

If You’ve Ever Loved a Pit Bull

Know what it’s like to think something is a given, to the point that you accept it as truth?  Living down South, for example, and hearing that all the people in New York City are rude and unfriendly, that you can’t walk down a street there and find a single person who will look you in the eye? Then you visit the Big Apple for yourself only to discover quite a lot of friendly people there, not so different, actually, from other places you’ve visited.

I don’t know how stereotypes get started, but it’s not hard to think of other examples that we might have grown up hearing, only to learn one day that maybe they’re not true after all.  Such is the case for me with Pit Bulls.

Before I became involved with dog rescue, I’ll admit I knew nothing about the breed except what I’d heard through the news or other forms of media that mostly weren’t flattering. So the first time I encountered a Pit Bull in a rescue situation, I was apprehensive about what I thought I knew: that it was almost impossible to find homes for them.

But then I met Spencer, a black Pit Bull cross – possibly some Labrador Retriever thrown in there – and every preconceived notion I’d had about the breed went up in so much smoke.  Angels of Assisi had rescued Spencer from the Franklin County Animal Control Shelter.  I was asked to foster him because he was shy and scared, even at Angels where he was lavished with love and care. They hoped I might be able to get him to a point of feeling safe again.


I went to pick him up on a cold, rainy day in February and found him to be every bit as fearful as they had said.  My daughters and I loaded him in our vehicle and took him home where he soon proved to be among the most gentle, sweet and loving dogs I have known.

Spencer was just like any other dog I had fostered who hadn’t had the best of lives or the kind of loving care that lets a dog know the world is a safe place for him or her.  He thrived on our attention and affection and returned it many times over.

My next Pit Bull foster was Tucker who came to us with his sister Lily.  On the day I picked them up from the Rocky Mount Pet Clinic where they had received medical care, they both crawled to me on their bellies, flat as pancakes, expecting me to do something horrible to them.  I can’t begin to imagine what had happened to them in their young lives to make them expect this.  I don’t want to imagine it.  Again, both dogs had the sweetest nature anyone could hope for.  And as their time with us went on, they grew in confidence, Lily more so than Tucker.  I began to suspect that Tucker had the worst end of whatever their experience had been before coming to us.


Lily went on to be adopted by a family in Pennsylvania, and we adopted Tucker.  His main mission in life is to give and receive as many hugs as possible.  No one does it better.  He will give you kisses till the cows come home.

The most recent addition to our family is Maggie, a beautiful young Pit Bull who had been left at our county shelter two different times for chewing, the last time of which her odds of getting out weren’t good.  When I saw her pound picture, she had that submissive smile on her little face that dogs do when they are worried.  It’s their way of saying I’m no threat to you – please don’t hurt me.  That smile nearly broke my heart, and I offered to foster her.

It didn’t take long to figure out that yes Maggie is a chewer, but this particular “issue” that had landed her at the county shelter was easily resolved by crating her when she wasn’t being supervised.

Maggie has never met a dog or a person she doesn’t like and try to win over immediately with her considerable charm and refusal to believe they won’t like her, too, given the chance to get to know her.  She plays with all her heart, but if she makes one of our other dogs yip by being too rough, she immediately apologizes with a big wag of her hips and several licks on the face.


Maggie is pure joy, pure happiness, purely wonderful.  It’s not that she’s so different from any other loving dog.  In fact, the point is that she and Spencer and Tucker are each just like any other dog who loves people and loves being loved by them.

I’ve since met many Pit Bulls that have come into rescue with the Franklin County Humane Society.  And I haven’t known one yet that was different from any other breed in their desire to know love, affection, safety and comfort and to bond with their people in the most meaningful ways.

But if you’ve ever loved a Pit Bull, you already know that.


Written by:

Inglath Cooper





Low Maintenance Best Friends!

Since its opening, the Franklin County Humane Society Adoption Center has provided a safe place for cats and kittens to be cared for who are in need of rehoming. Both adult cats and kittens come to us from the local county pound, when they have been left at dumpsters or outside our back door.

As we approach the upcoming kitten season, the Franklin County Humane Society is asking for your help. Please consider adopting one of our loving adult kittys so that we may help more of those in need this Spring. Just to show you how extra adorable they are, we had a little Kitty Dress Up photo session, the results of which you can see here! Please take a look at some of our beauties and share them with your friends.

Thank you!
The Franklin County Humane Society

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My First Walk With Molly

I took Molly, my most recent foster dog, for a walk today.  It’s a simple thing, and yet it felt momentous, a little like giving birth.

I’ve walked hundreds of dogs, most of them rescues, and I haven’t met one yet who didn’t enjoy a good walk. But Molly is different.  I had no idea if I could even get her to go along with the idea, much less be happy about it.

Molly’s story with us started a few months ago when the Franklin County Humane Society received an email from the county shelter saying that Molly was showing “aggressive behavior” and would have to leave the shelter – followed by the implied or else.  Or else means her life would be ended there.

We had seen her picture before receiving that email.  She was a beautiful Aussie cross with expressive wide brown eyes that clearly showed her worry in being at the county shelter. That was all we had to go on when a Franklin County Humane Society volunteer went down to get her.

In the days that followed, we learned that Molly was very afraid of people she did not know and showed her fear by growling when someone new approached her.  Men in hats seemed to be especially upsetting.

In the weeks that followed, Molly was adopted and returned when she did significant damage to a living room after being left alone in the house.  We then concluded that she had severe separation anxiety.  None of these things bode well for being adopted.  After discussing her case with our veterinarian, we decided to try an anxiety medication for her.

That was when I brought her home with me to foster.  I wasn’t exactly sure what she would need, and since I have a full house of my own, I opted to let her hang out in what we call our doggie clubhouse, a nice little room of her own that has a doggie door to a fenced yard.

For the first two days, she felt better evaluating me outside.  Her growl was more question than threat, and I sat with her, tossing her cookies and letting her set the agenda.  I did this several times over the next couple days, and at some point, she no longer felt the need to growl at me.  We just hung out looking at each other, eating animal crackers and getting to know one another.

On the third day, I moved our meeting inside the clubhouse, sitting in a chair and again letting her set the agenda, coming in and out of the doggie door to take cookies from me as she wanted.  We danced this dance for twenty or thirty minutes before she decided to sit down in front of me and take the cookies without going outside to eat them.  I still made no move to pet her.  Five or six cookies later, she moved closer to the chair and lay down on her side, exposing her belly for me to rub.

Now that I had her permission, I stroked her soft fur over and over.  She flinched a couple of times and then relaxed, clearly enjoying the petting.  And just like that, we were friends.  Hard-earned, but oh, so worth it.

I did this again the next day.  It took less time this go-round for us to get to the rubbing stage.  And so today, I decided to try a walk.

Molly was uneasy when she saw the leash, but I felt she trusted me enough now that I could force the issue a little more, and so I did.  As soon as we walked out the door into the cool evening air, she became instantly infused with happiness, a prance in her walk, her tail wagging.

The sun was setting as we strolled through the field where I like to walk my other dogs.  Some deer hopped up from the edge of the woods and scooted across the grass in front of us.  Molly perked her ears and looked up at me as if to ask whether she could chase them or not.  “We’ll just watch,” I said, and she seemed content with that.

I’ve had rewarding experiences like this with other foster dogs, but none more so than Molly.  I don’t know what happened to her before she came to us, but I know she has reason to be cautious.  I also now know that she is a dog who once you earn her trust, she will give you everything she has to give.  I hope a forever person is just ahead on Molly’s horizon.  Hers is the most rewarding kind of love of all, the kind you have to be deserving of.


Molly is currently interviewing families.  Please see her link at:

Written by Inglath Cooper

Kennedy the Cat by Natalie Lorens

A wonderful story here about Kennedy, a kitty left at the Franklin County Animal Shelter and taken in by the Humane Society. Nine year old Natalie Lorens had the opportunity to get to know Kennedy and liked him so much that she wrote a story about him.  We wanted to share that story with you.  Thank you, Natalie, for being a friend to Kennedy!


Kennedy the Cat

By: Natalie Lorens

Age 9

Once upon time there was a lonely girl. She dreamed of a gray and white cat.

There was a cat looking for a home. He was a gray and white cat.


One day a girl named Lilly was walking home from school. Suddenly she heard a soft meow. She looked everywhere but could not find where it came from.

When she got home she asked her mom, ”Mom can we get a cat, I would take care of him” asked Lilly. “No it would be to expensive and besides it would get hair everywhere,“ said mom.

The next day when Lilly went to school she couldn’t stop thinking about the meow she had heard. School seemed to last forever. When the bell rang I ran outside. I couldn’t wait.

When Lilly came to the spot where she had heard the meow she looked around.  She saw and little gray and white cat just like she had always wanted.  Lilly walked slowly towards the cat.  The cat looked at her and ran away.

When Lilly got home she asked her mom if cats where always scared of people?  “Not always sweetie, if it’s wild it can be scared”, said mom.

When I went bed there was a knock at the door.  “Honey will you get that please?”, yelled dad.  I got of bed and walked towards the door.  It was Jim, a friend from school.  “Hi”, Jim said.  Jim had a cage in his hand.  “This is my cat”, he said.  I looked inside the cage. It was the gray and white cat!  “This is my cat Kennedy.  I am moving away and cannot take him with me.  I saw you with him after school.  I thought you might want him?”  Jim asked.  I did not know what to say.

I finally said okay my mom would be really mad but I would have a cat.

The next day it was a Sunday. When my mom saw the cage she asked “What is that?”  “Oh that’s Kennedy “I said. “Who”, Dad asked. “It’s Jim’s cat he is moving away and asked me to take care of him”, I said. Mom groaned. Dad said to get in the car. “Why” I asked. “We are going to the pound” Mom said madly.

That night after we had dropped Kennedy at the pound, I felt so bad. I had told Jim I would keep Kennedy and I didn’t.

The next day when I went to school I saw Jim. I asked him why he was here “ I thought you were moving away?”, I asked.” I am moving but I’m moving on the 15 “, Jim said. “Oh”, I said. “How is Kennedy doing?” asked Jim.

“I love him and he is so cute”, I said. “Jim I have something to tell you”, I said. “What”, he asked. I paused for a second then said “My mom wants to take Kennedy to the pound”, I said. Jim frowned. “Why”, he asked. “I don’t know”, I said.

Two days later after Jim had move away. I went to visit Kennedy everyday. Lilly’s mom thought Lilly was playing with her best friend Sara.

One day after school I went to visit Kennedy, like I did everyday. When I got there, I went to Kennedy’s cage. He wasn’t there! I ran to the front desk, I said, “Where is Kennedy?” “Oh he is sick, they moved him to the sick room down the hall” the lady said. I ran down the hall. Kennedy was in a cage curled in a ball. “Hi Kennedy” I said. He looked at me.

I looked at him. He meowed and got up. I opened the cage and picked him up. He started to purr. Then one of the staff members came in and said, “I need to take his temperature” said the staff member. I gave Kennedy a final pat on the head and gave him to the staff member. The staff member walked away with him.

A week later my mom asked me why I was playing with Sara so much. I said we were making a movie. I got on my bike, and I went to the pound. When I got there I saw Kennedy at the front desk. I went over and asked “Why is Kennedy up here?” “Oh he is just going to be looked at by the vet, Dr. Bowler. I said ok. I was fine with that. Dr. Bowler looked at Kennedy and said he was homesick.

Five days later I was about to go see Kennedy when my mom said, “Honey stay inside, it’s too cold out there.” I groaned. Mom I really want to go outside. I’ll wear a big coat, please! “No” mom says sternly. I slowly walked to my room and opened the window and jumped out, and ran to the pound.

When I got to the pound, I ran to the sick room. Kennedy wasn’t there! I ran to his other cage and he was there playing with a toy mouse. I opened the cage and I picked up the mouse and dangled it in front of his face. He flashed out his paw and knocked the mouse out of my hand.

When Lilly got home, the window was closed, and she tried to slide it open but it wouldn’t budge. She ran to the front door but it was locked! Lilly knocked on the door; no answer. I ran and got the spare key. I unlocked the door and ran inside. Nobody was home. I was scared.


Two hours later mom and dad came home with a cage in their hand! It was Kennedy! Lilly’s mom and dad had been worrying about her and had stopped by the shelter. The staff told them how much Lilly had been visiting and how much Lilly loved Kennedy. Kennedy purred the whole way home.

Where Are They All Coming From?

It’s a question my friends in rescue ask every time 4 or 5 dogs have just been saved from being euthanized, and then another email notice arrives the following day from the county shelter saying they are “full” and help is again needed.

“Full” in the context of a county shelter is a terrible word. The word brings an instant knot to my stomach and those of the volunteers I work with at the Franklin County Humane Society. “Full” means the dog or cat who has been at the shelter the longest is most in danger of losing his or her life when another person walks in and “surrenders” their dog or cat to the pound.

That’s another word that has its own special context where the county shelter is concerned.

sur·ren·der (s -r n d r) v. sur·ren·dered, sur·ren·der·ing, sur·ren·ders 1. To relinquish possession or control of to another because of demand or compulsion. 2. To give up in favor of another. 3. To give up or give back (something that has been granted): surrender a contractual right. 4. To give up or abandon: surrender all hope. 5. To give over or resign (oneself) to something, as to an emotion: surrendered himself to grief. 6. Law To restore (an estate, for example), especially to give up (a lease) before expiration of the term.

The largest percentage of dogs and cats listed on the available for transfer sheet from our county pound are noted as “Owner Surrenders.” I’ve often wondered who came up with that term. It implies that the dog or cat was given up against a person’s free will. When that’s not actually the case at all.

“Surrendered” is a euphemism for given up, thrown away, abandoned, no longer want to accept responsibility for, have gotten tired of, never wanted anyway, don’t have time or desire to problem solve for.

The best analogy for dog and cat rescue I’ve ever heard is this: it’s like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket. No sooner do you run to the sand and pour out your pail of water than you look back, and there’s an entire ocean’s worth rolling right at you.

Such is the case with an open admission county shelter. Dogs or cats with their puppies and kittens are taken in without question. “You don’t want them anymore? Drop them off. Maybe someone will happen by and adopt one of them. If you’re lucky, a rescue group will think they can place them and take them in.”

Or, depending on where the shelter is, it is just as likely that none of the above will happen, and the pet that mere days before lived in a home with his or her family will be given a lethal injection that ends his or her life and leaves the person who surrendered him or her free and clear of all responsibility. People who once loved them, brought them into their families as puppies or kittens, only to decide one day that they don’t want them anymore.

Which really makes our question all the sadder. Because that’s where most of them are coming from.


Written by Inglath Cooper

What made me write this piece? Reading this: As Blue as a Summer Sky: Austin, Then and Now